Public Cloud 2.0

The remote work horse has bolted and it’s going to have far-reaching consequences, even on the technology that makes it possible in the first place: the public cloud.

It’s already a cliché to say that the 2020 health crisis accelerated many of the trends, digital and otherwise, that have been bubbling up for the last few years. This is certainly the case for public cloud uptake around the world.

Despite the hype over cloud computing over the last few years, there was still a gap between public cloud uptake – where hosted resources are truly shared between users, as opposed to private cloud or hybrid cloud – in the US and the rest of the world. But this gap is already narrowing, driven by the shift to remote work. Why? Think of the laggards that stayed loyal to the horse and cart, up until the point where tarred roads became the norm and refusing to switch to an automobile was counterproductive. We have arrived at that inflexion point for the public cloud thanks to working from home and remote working. Even as we return to our offices, remote working in some form is here to stay and this has moved the public cloud conversation from “should we” to “when we”.

The public cloud was one of the major underlying factors contributing to our ability to stay home for three plus months and then gradually return to the traditional workplace, and maintain productivity, collaboration and efficiency. Public cloud services, such as those from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, give us access to our data, and our teams, without the need for clunky virtual private network (VPN), setting up and maintain servers, and the related bandwidth requirements for moving that data around. Thanks to the COVID-19 remote working pilot we were all forced to participate in, it has become easy to appreciate the benefits of having your corporate data in the cloud anywhere, any time. And early adopting companies are certainly reaping the rewards for their investment in innovation and technology.

As a side note, this shift to public cloud is going to impact the layout of the office of the future: no need for a server room anymore, but a fast, reliable internet connection with a fail over is going to be key.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, said in an earnings call in May 2020 that they have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. And when you consider the abilities we have today thanks to the cloud, this makes the future a very interesting, cloud-driven place.

Cloud to the rescue

Can you imagine if the COVID-19 global health crisis had happened ten, or even five, years ago? It is highly unlikely so many of us would have been able to transition to remote working as quickly and, in many cases, as effortlessly as we did. From powerful laptop computers, to fibre to our homes, to a wide selection of collaboration and video conferencing tools powered by the public cloud: business continuity has, for the most part, been maintained, and in some cases even improved. We’re certainly having far more effective and streamlined conversations with our prospects during lockdown.

As published on Accountancy South Africa - August 2020

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